Friday, April 5, 2013

The High Speed Police Chase to the End of the Semester

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses."

"Hit it."

I get in my car and have someone weld the door shut.  I start the ignition, put my foot on the break, put the car in gear, and superglue my hands to the steering wheel.  There is a cardboard sign in my back window that reads, "May or Bust."

I can't stop.  If I don't spend virtually every waking hour on my school work, I will not make it there.

I can't let silly little things like sanity slow me down or stop me.  I've got to keep going.  Word after word, inch after inch, page after page, mile after mile, I must reach my destination or die in a fiery explosion.

Next week I have five presentations, three on Wednesday and two on Thursday.  Not to mention two paper proposals, and my regular reading and classwork.  The three presentations on Wednesday don't scare me, they are three of the same presentation, to three different college composition class, on writing research papers.  The one presentation on Thursday isn't a big deal, it is to my Melville class, which only has like 8 people (including myself), and is about our reading.  

The other presentation on Thursday, however, is at the University of Akron Student Innovation Symposium.  It's not a big conference or anything, but it is more official, and it is  based on my research of the Middle  English romance, Havelok the Dane.  The title of my presentation is "Class, Status, and Social Order in Havelok the Dane".  It is based on a paper that I wrote for my Middle English Lit class at Kent.  I am not nervous...Yet.  I volunteered to do the presentations on Wednesday so by Thursday (in addition to the ones I have already done this semester) so that by Thursday I will be a seasoned pro at presenting.

Hopefully this experience will then translate to me giving a presentation at the MMLA Conference next November.  That I won't find out about until June.  That presentation, if they accept it, will be on John Updike's Rabbit, Run, and my assertion that there is no subjective narrative voice in the text.  In addition to the experience, it will be cool to go to because it is in Milwaukee.

There is also a Shakespeare Conference in the fall that I would like to present at.

Right now I have to focus on getting my classwork done.  But all these presentations are good experience (and good to add to my CV, which is still rather bare), but I won't be going very far if I don't have good grades.  I already have two of my final papers somewhat figured out, and one more to figure out.  I have two proposals due and lots of research to do, which means that my weekend is over. Hell, my weekends for the next month are over.  Sorry, folks.  I'll see you all after May 10.

I *should* be finding out soon whether I am getting the assistantship. I don't know whether I will or not, but I do know that I am still in the running.  I am keeping my fingers crossed and my nose to the grindstone and hope that my application is strong (Hell, I know it's strong, but hopefully it is in comparison to the other applicants) and that the professors who are on the committee know me and believe I am capable of handling a position (because I know I am).  If I don't get it that will change my future plans (since I won't be able to get into a PhD program without it).

In addition, I have thought of a thesis topic and have contacted a possible adviser about it.  

This has been such an up and down semester.  Two weeks ago I was at the verge of losing my nerve and now I am more confident and reassured than ever.  This is the first time I have ever needed a Spring Break just to keep my sanity, but it worked.  Everything seems to be coming together.

Speaking of which, I am still trying to get Tales from the Fringes together.  I need to give it a thorough proofread before I am satisfied.  I don't have to make any major changes, and I am satisfied with the formatting and the content.  By the time school is out for the semester I will be ready to promote it like crazy.

I am still weighing my options about my novel.  On one hand I definitely have a great idea and it would be worthwhile to rewrite it; however, many of the criticisms from my professional reader I was prepared for, and these things didn't bother me necessarily, beforehand. I am thinking that I am going to self publish the current version and take that part that she liked and expand on it and write it in a more focused, detailed, and professional way.  

The main problem with my novel as it is now is that the style is out of date.  The publishing industry has a very narrow concept of what makes a good novel, and it doesn't necessarily mesh with the canon of Western Literature.  Then again, many of the works that constitute that canon weren't popular at the time. 

I'm not saying that I am that good or anything, but, as a student of that literature, particularly as someone who is working towards a PhD. in it, I am highly influenced by the canon.  If I limit myself to what currently constitutes "good" literature, while I am certainly more likely to get published, I feel like I am vastly limiting my creative possibilities.

I am not saying that I am not going to write books that fit within that narrow scope, but I am not exclusively going to do so, nor should anybody.  Maybe that is a part of the problem with the publishing industry.  Too few people get to decide what is relevant, and what they say is relevant doesn't match up with what is historically relevant.

While I am not against progress, I am against putting myself in a box, especially since, even if I meet the standard and I do get published, that doesn't guarantee any sort of success, which is why I am focused on trying to make a living in Education.  This way I can still do what I love and make some kind of living.

I just think it's illogical that many of the books that we define as great, that have stood the test of time and are still relevant today and are still studied widely all over the world, Melville for example (who is MORE relevant now than when he was alive), wouldn't get published today, because they don't fit in with what the INDUSTRY defines as good.

I am not saying that I am Melville, but, I am not saying that I am not, either.  Maybe my novel has faults, but it also, I think, has many strengths, too.  It is definitely a first novel, and it is well past due to be presented to the world.  I really want to move forward, and, since I am not delusional and have no intention of trying to make a living as a writer -- if it happens, it happens -- and I have already spent SIX years on this same goddamn novel.  I feel like I have been jerking off for the past six years.

I feel like I do owe it to my audience to put it out and make it accessible.  I will likely write a more focused, YA version of that one particular section, but there is no reason why I can't put out what I have.  What else am I going to do with it?

I don't know.  For now, I am going to get through school, get my short story collection out, build more of an audience and advance professionally.

I am thinking, I am really leaning towards, self-publishing my book as it is.  We'll see what happens.

I should get back to work.

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